Giro d'Italia: Aru penalised 20 seconds for drafting

Giro d'Italia commissaires dished out a handful of time penalties for drafting during Tuesday's stage 16 individual time trial, including a 20-second slap to UAE Team Emirates' Fabio Aru for pacing behind a police motor over the 34.2km course from Trento to Revereto. The Italian remains 22nd overall, now 24:34 behind overall leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

Officials hit Aru's teammates Valerio Conti and Diego Ulissi the hardest, with each receiving two-minute penalties. Ulissi caught Conti before the first check, having started one minute behind him. Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Floors) were each docked 30 seconds.

Chief Commissiare Randall Shafer of the US said the UCI judges decided on the penalties after reviewing images from helicopters and from television, following up on reports from motor commissaires of incidents involving prolonged drafting.

“We made the best decisions based on the speeds we had and based on the distance that was recorded on the television as well as the normal penalties based on the observations of the commissaires," Shafer said. “We had some that were significant and others that were not so significant. And some that we want to enforce the fact that we’re watching and that the television is watching, that the media is watching and that the public is watching.”

Shafer confirmed that the UCI judges used the new video referee technology to catch the cheats. A UCI judge watches all the different television images in a special cabin at the finish area.

“We see more now that we have the video technology and we took into consideration that the rest of the world sees it. It’s important for us to take a disciplined approach with the riders,” he said.

Shafer only listed race numbers and time penalties, insisting he was not interested if the riders were well placed in the overall classification. He refused a suggestion that the race organisers and judges had somehow failed to stop possible drafting.

“I think it’s the riders choice to follow who they follow," he said. "We had people trying to follow vehicles, we had people trying to follow each other, catching teammates, passing riders and continuing to staying the slipstream of those riders. It’s a rider’s decision. We had one case of a team vehicle, but we generally had good discipline on the road.” 

UAE Team Emirates told Cyclingnews that the slipstreaming was not intentional, with no specific intention to gain time. They pointed out that Conti and Ulissi started just one minute apart. The team said they fully accept the judges decision.

Shafer said the judges had not yet been contacted by any of the teams, but he expected to "have those conversations."

"They have the right to come to talk to us, but ours is the decision to take."

Aru slipped from sixth on the stage to eighth at 57 seconds, while Ulissi dropped well out of the top 10 after initially being scored in eighth at 40 seconds. Team Sunweb's Chad Haga moved up a spot to seventh at 47 seconds. Team Sky's David de la Cruz is now ninth at 1:01, while his teammate Vasil Kiryienka moved up to 10th at 1:04.

In the only change to the general classification standings, Perdersen dropped one spot to 153rd behind Israel Cycling Academy's Guy Sagiv.

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